Tethered: Bernadette Glorioso and Dott Schneider, at the Hildebrandt
In their artist statement, Bernadette Glorioso and Dott Schneider explain Tethered as “a conversation about breaking free from restrictions and expectations,” and as collaboration between two artists who met earlier this year while installing work in a group exhibition. The new show of paintings–done in oil or mixed media on canvas, in varying square or rectangular dimensions–is not experimental in form. Indeed, upon entering the exhibition at the Hildebrandt Artist Collective Gallery, viewers overlooking the statement–if they are drawn instantly to the slick oil, layered surfaces, and sophisticated color-schemes these artists create–will miss the other magical part of Tethered. Glorioso and Schneider worked in tandem on paintings for the show, doing so without knowing what the other was working on.
It’s a compelling experiment, to curate a two-person show without concern for subject matter, form, or color. It is, of course, typical for artists and curators to see the work together and plan what will go on the wall based on subject matter, theme, color, and/or shape.
What made the experiment even more challenging is that Schneider was very deliberately working on a body of paintings that reflected the messiness of her emotional and physical states, during the pandemic “I got a hysterectomy and the doctor took my uterus out in four parts,” she explains. “Some of this work is beautiful, but,” she warns, “it’s blood and guts messy.”
Schneider’s “Magnolia” depicts what the artist says her mother referred to as “floral,” hence the title, but it is an expressionist rendering of her uterus and its removal from her abdomen. The canvas, composed in four parts, looks tree-like, rooted, yet the trunk of the tree is far from dry, dead wood. Instead, the core is dense, deep, slick bloody-red surrounded by green and blue, colors of rejuvenation and spring time, and–in the case of the shadowy blue bottom left quadrant, death and cleansing. Schneider is a sophisticated colorist and a confident line-maker and she pushes her own comfort level in the body of paintings on view in Tethered. “It’s a matter of my being able to assert that a painting is finished,” she explains. “I used to work with the deadline of when something needed to be done, but with this body of paintings, I let them be, turned them away from my view so I could go back to them again and decide later.” Indeed, the pandemic and its unpredictable shut-downs, closures, and lulls in time, permitted a different creative process to emerge for many artists.
Glorioso, whose studio is adjacent to the gallery space, paints on garments that she once owned and regularly wore, often working the garment pattern into her final compositions. In “Fawning Thoughts” a long-legged, suntanned white woman with blonde-brown streaked hair dons tights that reveal the fabric on which the work is painted. The floral patterned material comes across as a clever trompe l’oeil, as the artist renders the legs in tights, painting around what became the figure’s hips and limbs. She appears enigmatically transcendent and there’s a fawn burrowing restfully into her lap, as a pair of crows perch nonchalantly at her ankles. The artist lives on a woodsy lot adjacent to a public park so the wild animals are as at home on her land as they are resting on, communing with the confidently relaxed young woman in the painting. “We feed the deer who live on our land apples from the property,” she says, “they as comfortable with us as we with them–I hand feed them the apples.”
Glorioso works in oil and her surfaces are carefully wrought, while the subject matter largely reflects the colors and effects of outdoor light, particularly the shades and tones of her yard, which are unique to her property, but familiar to all of us living in Greater Cleveland. Like in “Fawning Thoughts,” the city’s flora, fauna, and industrial ephemera are often woven together or co-exist in the Standard Oil-U.S. Steel Mill-wrought environment of Cleveland. Glorioso captures this essence in “Northern Exposure,” as well, as she melds a deer grazing in the bottom half of the work; it happily chomps foliage in front of gate that opens to the CLE skyline beyond the doe.
In Glorioso’s world, all are one, unified. There is balance, beauty.
The complex, unexpected color schemes–fields of cool blue with dashes of leafy, grass-green (Glorioso) and puke yellow (Schneider), jar us from complacency, and unexpected lines, subjects, and juxtaposition of color create an equilibrium in the overall exhibition. For Schneider, balancing the chaos of her body amid the traumas and uncertainties of COVIDaze meant challenging her past ways of working. Both artists take deep dives into their inner and outer worlds in search of healing and–most importantly right now, balance.
If you are looking for a quiet, calm, yet experimentally sound art experience this weekend, you will find it among the works by these two artists who are bravely and resiliently looking inward and shining outward after a wholly traumatic period in history.
Tethered, Bernadette Glorioso & Dott Schneider
through November 6, 2023
Hildebrandt Artist Collective
3629 Walton Avenue
Cleveland, Ohio 44113